new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Scientific evidence summarized in the new recommendations shows that physicians and parents can ward off problems at both ends of the weight spectrum by avoiding focusing teens’ attention on weight or dieting. Instead, we need to focus on helping children and teenagers adhere to healthy, active lifestyles. What can be done?
- Celebrate the end of summer and get moving! Schedule one afternoon a week for the family to do yard work together. Studies show that you can burn about 350 calories an hour mowing the lawn or 175 calories for 30 minutes of picking up sticks and raking leaves. Not only will you get a great workout, your yard will look great too.
- Focus on your kids’ health, not their weight. Adolescence is difficult enough for most children and self-esteem can suffer – especially if a child is heavier. Parents can help by making sure their kids are active and learn to make good food choices. Thus, helping to maintain weight management.
- Make dinner family-style – including dessert. According to a story on WTOP on September 8, 2015, Caron Gremont, senior director of healthy eating at Martha’s Table and founder of the nonprofit First Bites, explains, “Our goal shouldn’t be to eat until we’re full; our goal should be to eat until we’re no longer hungry.” Holding dessert for the end of a meal reverses the “eat until you’re no longer hungry” rule. Instead, it teaches kids to keep eating until they are full, and then they can eat some more. So, she suggests serving dinner family-style and including small portions of dessert in the offerings. The article explains, “(This) teaches kids to moderate their own food intake. The world is full of candy, cookies and cakes, and learning how to incorporate small servings of these treats into a balanced diet without overeating is a life skill.”
- Make fitness fun! Fitness for kids doesn’t have to be sit-ups and sprints. Have fun as a family. Take your children with you and the family dog for a walk around block. Hit the basketball court for a friendly game of Horse. (Try parents vs kids.) Unwind at the playground on the swings, monkey bars or climbing walls. Remember, you, as a parent, are setting an example. If you have fun being fit, your kids will grow up learning that leading a healthy, active lifestyle is fun too.